Sexuality (or sexual orientation) is a person's identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are typically attracted.
However, how we express our ‘sexuality’ covers a broad base of topics – how our bodies look, how we dress, our romantic feelings, our relationships – and it has a big impact on our lives.
The conversation about sexuality starts before a baby is even born.
Think about it – people constantly ask the mother-to-be about the baby’s gender, make assumptions about what its behaviour will be like, pick colours for the child’s room or even decide what toys the baby will play with based on their gender.
As we grow, we get a lot of messages from the media, our religion, our cultures and our families about what is okay and not okay. Most of these messages are so subtle, and happen over such a long period of time, that we don’t even realise where many of our ideas about sexuality have come from.
For example, following some social media influencers, watching movies or reading about celebrity culture may make you feel like you need to be thin to be attractive. However, you may realise later in life that you were attractive just the way you were all along.
These messages often influence how we think about ourselves and our sexuality. They help form the beliefs we hold about our gender roles or how a person is expected to act based on how society views their gender.
Who you are attracted to is often called your sexual orientation and it is also part of your sexuality. Remember – it isn’t just what you do with someone, it’s also how that person makes you feel that matters.
For example, you could feel attracted to someone of your same gender without ever having touched someone and this does not make these feelings any less valid.
Or perhaps you do not have romantic or sexual feelings for anyone at all. This is also valid.
Regardless of your age, what your body can or can’t do physically, if you are religious or not, if you have survived trauma, the shape and size of your body, the colour of your skin or your gender identity, the bottom line is that there is a sexuality for every person and it can be as individual and unique and amazing as you wish it to be.